Every week, we compile the Grant Round Up. It includes newly opened federal grant opportunities from all 26 grant-making agencies.
There's a notable exception. Grants made by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) aren't included. ARC is one of the few federal entities that don't use grants.gov to announce funding opportunities and solicit applications.
Instead, ARC announces grant funding on its website and uses various mechanisms to receive applications, some of which are pretty clunky.
ARC is truly a beast unto itself, but there are funding opportunities to be had.
What is the ARC?
The Appalachian Regional Commission is a regional economic development agency. Congress created the commission in 1965 to address systemic poverty in the region. The commission isn't headed by a cabinet member like most federal agencies. Instead, a presidential appointee and the governors from 13 Appalachian states lead the commission. The states are:
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Congress appropriates funding each year to address ARC's strategic goals:
- Increase job opportunities and per capita income in Appalachia to reach parity with the nation.
- Strengthen the capacity of the people of Appalachia to compete in the global economy.
- Develop and improve Appalachia's infrastructure to make the Region economically competitive.
- Build the Appalachian Development Highway System to reduce Appalachia's isolation.
In layman's terms, ARC funds pay for workforce development programs, transportation projects and infrastructure improvements to help people living in the 423-county area increase their earning potential.
What types of grants does ARC make?
The majority of ARC grants go directly to states. That money is then divvied up at the local level. For example, the commission's Area Development Program grants are only provided to states.
Programs such as the ARC Power Initiative have more lax eligibility requirements. The program funds workforce development efforts in areas impacted by the coal industry's decline School districts, high ed institutions, small business incubators, workforce development agencies, and entrepreneurship programs, are typical recipients.
Some ARC funding is actually administered through a federal agency. The Department of Labor manages the Workforce Opportunities for Rural Communities program. Due to its unique structure, these grant opportunities are posted on grants.gov. Recipients include counties, nonprofits, community colleges, and development districts.
A new ARC program, Appalachian Regional Initiative for Stronger Economies (ARISE), was announced last week. This program came about as a result of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and seeks to develop new economic development opportunities across multiple states. We don't know much about this new program, but we'll wager most of the $73.5 million in funding will go to states.
How to win ARC funding
All ARC funding is highly competitive. In fact, these programs are some of the most competitive we've ever encountered. We've secured several ARC grants for clients over the years and have some tips to help you win funding from the commission.
1. Get organized. If your project is still in the planning phases, you may not be ready to seek ARC funding. The commission likes to see projects that are ready to be implemented. You'll also have to identify how much money you're seeking in a letter of intent. This number can't change once you submit your full proposal.
2. Expect to need matching funds. Most ARC programs require a match of 20%. While in-kind funds are acceptable, cash is preferred and cash is easier from an administrative standpoint.
3. Learn the application process. It would be great if all ARC programs used the same submission engine. They don't. You may have to learn a new system with different registration requirements. Plan accordingly.
4. Make friends with your state's program manager. Many ARC grants require you to consult the state program manager before you can apply. These folks can make or break your efforts so play nice.
5. Attend webinars and information sessions. ARC provides many ways to learn about their funding programs. There's a lot to be gleaned from these sessions. Make every effort to attend or watch a recording.
How to learn about ARC grants
ARC grants are posted on the commission's website and posted on their social channels. These opportunities are also posted in the weekly federal register. You may also learn about these opportunities via state or local channels.
Help writing ARC grants
ARC grants are highly competitive and require well-crafted grant applications. Learn the skills you need for success with our on-demand grant writing course. You'll come away prepared to tackle any federal grant so your agency can do more, better.